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A literal is an object directly inserted into code using a "special" syntax. Lasso supports string, boolean, integer, decimal, tag and staticarray literals.

The method for using these literals is straight forward. For example, an integer literal is expressed, as one might expect, by simply using the numeric value in the source text. 23 is an example of an integer literal.

  • String Literals describes the syntax used to represent string objects.

  • Boolean Literals describes the literals for true and false.

  • Integer Literals describes the syntax used to create integer objects.

  • Decimal Literals describes the syntax used to create decimal objects.

  • Tag Literals describes how type names are expressed.

  • Staticarray Literals describes the shortcut for "staticarray" object creation.

  • Comments describes the various methods for adding comments to code.

String Literals

All strings in Lasso are Unicode strings. This means that a string can contain any of the characters available in Unicode. Lasso supports two kinds of string literals: quoted and ticked. Quoted strings can contain escape sequences, while ticked strings can not. Both quoted and ticked strings literals can contain line breaks. Both quoted and ticked string literals produce the same type of string objects. The differences between the two types of literals are handled entirely during parsing.

Quoted Strings

The first kind of string literal is a series of zero or more characters surrounded by either single or double quotes. If a string literal begins with a single quote, then it must end with a single quote. The same holds for a string literal that begins with a double quote; it must end with a double quote.

  'This is a string literal'
  "This is also a string literal"

Within this type of string literal, the backslash character [\ 0x5C] is interpreted as an escape character. This means that the backslash, when encountered in a string literal changes the meaning of the immediately following character(s). For example, a backslash is required in order to create a string literal that contains the quote character that surrounds the string.

  'This is a \'string literal\' with quotes'
  "This is also a \"string literal\" with quotes"

Note that a backslash is not required in order to insert the alternate quote type into a string literal. For example, a single quoted string can contain a double quote without having to be escaped.

A backslash is also required in order to insert a literal backslash into a string. In order to embed a backslash into a string, two backslashes must be used.

  'This string literal has a backslash \\ in it'

A backslash followed by an end of line (a literal line feed or carriage return or carriage return/line feed pair) will cause that end of line and all following literal whitespace to be removed from the resulting string. The string resumes starting with the first encountered non-whitespace character. This sort of escape sequence can be useful for preserving the visual formatting of a string literal while removing the characters used to achieve that formatting from the resulting string.

  'This string \
         had a break in it'  This string had a break in it

The backslash can also be used to insert Unicode characters represented either by hex code, or by character name. Where the Unicode character name is used, the name must be the official Unicode name for that character and that name is enclosed between a set of colons. Additionally, it is an error to use an unrecognized character name.

Also supported are a series of commonly used escape sequences. The following table shows all of the permissible escape sequences.

Table 1: Supported Escape Sequences





Unicode character

1-2 hex digits


Unicode character

4 hex digits


Unicode character

8 hex digits


Unicode character

1-3 octal digits


Unicode character

Unicode character name












Form feed



Line feed



Carriage return






Vertical tab



Quotation mark






Question mark




\<end of line>


Escape whitespace

Ticked Strings

A ticked string is a series of zero or more characters surrounded by a pair of backticks [` 0x60]. Within a ticked string, the backslash character holds no special meaning. Ticked strings do not recognize any escape sequences, and this can make them useful particularly when using regular expressions which often require many backslashes. When using regular quoted strings, the backslash would normally have to be itself escaped, while with ticked strings, it does not. The caveat for this is that a literal backtick character can not appear within a ticked string.

  `This is a ticked string`
  `A ticked string can contain 'single quotes', "double quotes", \ backslash characters and more
  - anything except backticks!`


Boolean Literals

A boolean is an object which is either "true" or "false". Lasso supports the creation of these objects by using the word true or false directly in the source code.


Integer Literals

An integer is a whole number. Integers can be positive or negative and Lasso puts no limit on the size of an integer. Integers consist of the digits 0 through 9 and can be written directly into the source code.


Integers can also be written using hexadecimal notation. Hexadecimal integers begin with a zero followed by upper or lower case "x" followed by one or more hexadecimal digits 0-9 and A-F. Either upper or lower case letters are permitted. A hexadecimal integer literal is always interpreted as a positive integer.


Both numeric and hexadecimal integer literals produce the same integer type with the same set of member methods.

Decimal Literals

A decimal is a fractional number. Decimal numbers contain a "decimal point" and thus they are called "decimals". Lasso supports 64-bit decimals. This gives Lasso's decimal numbers a range from approximately negative to positive 2x10^300 and with precision down to 2x10^-300. A decimal literal begins with an optional - or + followed by zero or more digits, a decimal point, one or more additional digits, and ending with an optional exponent. A decimal exponent begins with an upper or lower case E, followed by an optional - or + followed by one or more digits. Lasso also supports decimal literals for NaN (not a number) as well and positive and negative infinity. Note that case is irrelevant when using the NaN and infinity literals. Examples follow of various decimal literals.


Tag Literals

A tag is an object that uniquely represents a particular string of characters. Unlike strings, tags can not be modified. Tags are used to represent type and method names as well as variable names. A tag can begin with an underscore or A-Z, followed by zero or more underscores, A-Z, 0-9 or period characters. Tags can not contain spaces.

Tags are commonly used when applying type constraints to methods, data members and variables, though they have other purposes as well.

A tag literal consists of two colons :: followed by the tag characters.

  ::name  tag object representing "name"

In Lasso, tags are used in many different locations. For example, when asking an object what type it is, it will reply with a tag object representing its name. Since there will be only one tag object for every individual name, comparing tags for equality is very fast.

Staticarray Literals

Lasso's staticarray object type is an efficient, non-resizable container for holding any object type. This object is used in many places in Lasso and it's not unlikely that a Lasso programmer will come into contact with one. Staticarrays are created in the same way as any object, but Lasso supports a "shortcut" syntax to produce staticarrays. This expression begins with an open parenthesis immediately followed by a colon and then zero or more comma delimited expressions, ending with the closing parenthesis.

  (: 1, 2, 'hello')  a staticarray containing 1, 2 and "hello"


Lasso supports three types of comments:

  • single line comments

  • block comments

  • doc comments

Single line and block comments are ignored, having no effect on the execution of any nearby code. Doc comments are saved with any associated methods, types or traits, as explained below.

Single Line Comments

A single line comment begins with two forward slashes //. The comment runs until the end of the line, which is either a carriage return, line feed or a carriage return/line feed pair.

   local(n = 123) // this is the first comment
  // this is another comment
  #n += 456

Block Comments

A block comment permits a large section of code to the commented. Block comments begin with the characters /* and ends with */. Any characters, as well as multiple lines, are permitted within the opening and closing.

   local(n = 123)
  /* this is a block comment
  it has multiple lines */
  #n += 456

Block comments can not be nested.

Doc Comments

A doc comment permits a bit of documentation to be associated with either a type, trait or method. This comment is not processed by Lasso in any way, but is saved as-is. A doc comment begins with the characters /**! and runs until a closing */ sequence. Any characters can appear within a doc comment, and a doc comment can consist of multiple lines.

Doc comments can only appear in the following locations:

  • Immediately before a type definition

  • Immediately before a trait definition

  • Immediately before a method definition; either inside or outside of a type definition

  • Immediately before a trait provide or require section

     This doc comment is associated with this method
  define foo->xyz() => { ... }

     This doc comment is associated with this type definition
  define foo => type {

     Doc comment for the method xyz()
  public xyz() => { ... }

     This doc comment is associated with this trait
  define tBar => trait {
     Doc comment for the method doIt()
  provide doIt() => { ... }

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